PROJECT: Hanseatic League

The Hanseatic League was a business alliance of trading cities and their guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe and flourished from the 1200 to 1500. The chief cities were Cologne on the Rhine River, Hamburg and Bremen on the North Sea, and Lübeck on the Baltic. Each city had its own legal system and a degree of political autonomy.

Situation

  • In past history the transport of goods between different countries has been more dangerous than today. The most common and fastest way to deliver goods was by sea.
  • From the mid-13th century the association between German merchants became much more extensive and regularized.
  • Around 1265 all northern German towns voted in favour of the "law of Lübeck" and agreed on common legislation for the defence of merchants and their goods.
  • To provide protection they founded a supra regional network called the Hansa league, which was held together by commen economic interest under the idea of a free trade concept

Objectives

  • The Hanseatic Leagues aim was to protect its ship convoys, goods and caravans by quelling pirates and brigands.
  • The League received as much monies, paid in taxes, and economical power out of it as possible.

 

Assets

  • Due to scale advantages of the whole network they could offer better protection to their traders.
  • The economic and political influence of the league made it easy to control trade routes and to block competition.
  • The league established a monopoly position of trade routes.

Strategy

  • The stragety was to create a super regional economic community.
  • Reasonable assurance against pirates and brigands was provided.
  • Safe navigation was fostered by building lighthouses and training pilots.
  • The league organized and controlled trade throughout northern Europe by winning commercial privileges, creating monopolies and by establishing trading bases overseas. 
  • This league is open to all former Hanseatic League members and cities that once hosted a Hanseatic kontor.
  • The league’s principal trade consisted of staples which went from Russia and Poland to Flanders and England, which in return sent clothes and other manufactured goods eastward to the Slavs.

Actions

  •  The rising Swedish Empire had taken control of much of the Baltic.
  • Denmark had regained control over its own trade, the Kontor in Novgorod had closed, and the Kontor in Bruges had become effectively moribund.
  • The individual cities which made up the League also started to put self-interest before their common Hanseatic interests.
  • By the late 16th century, the League had imploded and could no longer deal with its own internal struggles.

Effect

  •  The project is considered to have been the first super-regional economic community of the world.
  • The league established permanent commercial enclaves (Kontore) in a many foreign towns, for ecxample Flanders, Bergen in Norway, Novgorod Russia and London etc.
  • The Hanseatic League declined partly because it lacked any centralized power
  • After its collapse, cities still maintain the link to the Hanseatic League today. like Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen.
  • The "new Hanse" fosters and develops business links, tourism and cultural exchange.
  • In 1980, former Hanseatic League members established a "new Hanse" in Zwolle.
  • Since 1980, 163 cities in 15 different countries have joined forces to form an active network of cities.
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Project info

Projectnr

HAN

Year

1358 - 1862

Description

Business alliance of trading cities and their guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe.

Location

Nothern Europe

Effect

The League organized and controled trade throughout northern Europe by winning commercial privileges and monopolies and by establishing trading bases overseas. It also ensured peace, protection and order.

Scale

l

Actors

Chief cities: Cologne (Rhine River), Hamburg and Bremen (North Sea), and L├╝beck (Baltic)